My Favorite Supplements for Everyone
What’s the question I get asked the most?
Without a doubt, it’s “What supplements should I be taking?”
This is SUCH a loaded question. Not only do you need different nutrients for different ailments – and no, I generally don’t believe in traditional multis as a “catch-all” – but it depends on what is happening in your body, what co-factors are necessary with a particular nutrient, what medications you’re on, and what brand you are looking at (all supplement brands are definitely NOT created equal).
Which is why I tell people that we actually need to work together in order to determine which vitamins and minerals you may be low on, using diagnostic tools to figure it out.
You really don’t want to supplement with something just because some brand new study says it’s a winner. For example, for YEARS medical professionals recommended people take calcium for bone health (there are unfortunately too many that still do). They didn’t (and often still don’t) understand the interplay between calcium and magnesium, and that in actuality, people tend to need more magnesium.
When you supplement with calcium, you are diminishing your magnesium. And in the process, you can damage your heart health, insulin regulation, and hormones, among many other things.
Same goes for Vitamin D – it’s only recently that people have begun to understand it must be taken with K2 in order to work properly in your body, and not cause more issues.
Most importantly, YOU NEED TO CHANGE YOUR DIET FIRST. Eat that stuff in the photo up top. Supplements will NOT give you all the nutrients you need, help if you are eating foods you are allergic or have an intolerance to, ones that cause inflammation, or that hurt a liver which is struggling to detoxify all the junk on your plate.
What supplements do is in their name – they supplement the little bits and pieces you are missing so that you can optimize your health. They are not God pills that miraculously cure your eczema, depression, or addiction to that person who is just so wrong for you.
(Definitely not the last one.)
HAVING SAID ALL THAT, yes, there are a few supplements that a good majority of us need. Why? Well, our soil is pretty damn depleted. We take medications that block our ability to absorb essential nutrients and hurt our gut. We don’t get enough sunlight. We drink a lot of alcohol and caffeine. We aren’t eating the right foods (and consuming too many of the wrong ones – please remember, as I already mentioned, supplements aren’t getting you out of this rut).
So, the moment you’ll all been waiting for: the list of supplements that are (generally) good for everyone (I will note who they *may not* be good for at the end of each section).
Photo: Daily Nouri
Yes, this is the number #1 thing that I believe most everyone should be taking (obviously doesn’t work if you’re veggie). Why?
- It is essentially nature’s multivitamin, with a whole bunch of micronutrients, enzymes, and co-factors that we need, and I’m sure a bunch we haven’t even discovered yet. If you are into eating organic, grass-fed liver, go for it! You don’t need these pills. But if you aren’t, (like 90% of us), these pills pack a MEGA PUNCH with vitamin A (skin, y’all), a bunch of B vitamins (gives you energy!), CoQ10 (keep that youthful glow), Hyaluronic acid (more skin love!), Folate (the usable form of this vitamin for all you MTHFRers), vitamin D (you know you need it), vitamin K (Ds favorite co-factor and needed for blood clotting), vitamin E (skin, skin, skin, again), Zinc (necessary for good digestion and immunity), Copper (balances zinc and cardiovascular health), and Chromium (blood sugar regulation)
- The iron in beef liver pills is the best absorbed and most usable by the body. Many women need more iron during our menstruating years, and there is quite the controversy around synthetic iron supplementation. You won’t get constipated with this form.
- I credit beef liver pills with getting my iron and B12 back up when my fibroid was making me basically hemorrhage every month. In order for me to have my (ill-fated) fibroid surgery, I need to raise iron quick or they wouldn’t be able to perform the surgery. I’ve used them and now use the Beef Organs complex to build my body back up after all those damn surgeries.
- You do not want to supplement with beef liver pills if you have gout, high levels of iron, and studies have not been conducted on their safety for pregnant women.
There are so many processes in the body that use magnesium (at least 300), it’s hard to know where to begin of why almost all of us should be supplementing with it. So here are just a few:
- Helps convert food into energy
- Contracts and relaxes muscles
- Nervous system regulation
- Helps fight depression and anxiety
- Helps regulate insulin production
- Lowers blood pressure
- Is anti-inflammatory
- Plays a MAJOR role in menstruation: fights PMS, PCOS, it can prevent period pain, and helps move out excess estrogen (necessary in the battle against fibroids and cysts), so it’s very helpful with perimenopause.
You may be wondering why you need to supplement with magnesium when you eat tons of avocados, spinach, almonds, pumpkin seeds, and fish? (Please, don’t stop eating these foods.)
Well, back to that soil issue, not to mention the fact that stress depletes our magnesium pretty damn quickly (as does coffee – I know, I’m such a party-pooper). And who do you know isn’t stressed? We simply aren’t getting enough of it for our body’s needs.
Okay, now that you’ve decided to hop on board with supplementing Magnesium, which friggin’ form do you choose cause there’s so darn many? A lot of people enjoy Calm, but honestly, the citrate form is the hardest on your tummy (though some with constipation love that it moves things along), and there is a bit of controversy about it arsenic content.
If you have muscular or tissue soreness, I highly recommend Design for Health’s Topical Magnesium that you apply directly to where you are feeling pain. This was literally the only thing that allowed me to sleep when I had intense pain in my right shoulder while I had an ostomy.
Magnesium glycinate is one of the most highly absorbed forms.
You should not supplement with magnesium if you have kidney problems, while on muscle relaxants, or while on certain antibiotics. Please note that if you supplement with high amounts of magnesium, make sure to also supplement with calcium.
3. Trace Minerals and/or Electrolytes
Magnesium isn’t the only mineral that your body needs for many of its processes. Potassium, sodium, and calcium are hugely important for adrenal function, your thyroid, and hormones. It’s pretty crazy when you dive deep into what these little minerals do.
Ladies, a LOT of you have adrenal dysfunction happening. It’s pretty hard to live in our current “hustle, hustle, hustle” world without that happening. Trust this little health coach who has been battling adrenal issues since her 20s: the outcome ain’t great if you keep on pushing. But that’s another post altogether!
In the meantime, support your adrenals, thyroid, and hormones daily by adding trace minerals to your (hopefully) filtered water (unless you have a Berkey or some other system that keeps minerals in the water).
I find that most people walk around dehydrated without knowing it. Feeling tired, sluggish, headachy, and even listless can point to dehydration. I learned firsthand how easy our electrolyte balance can be thrown off while I had an ileostomy (because output is mostly watery from the small intestines, you lose a lot of electrolytes that way), but I also started to recognize how often I was dehydrated before my ileostomy based on those symptoms.
There are some simple ways to get more bang for your buck from your water: add himalayan salt and lemon to it, or get yourself an electrolyte mix and drink it once a day (unless sweating profusely for whatever reason; then have more). You’ll feel the difference.
Theoretically, you can get too many electrolytes (so don’t drink 12 packets of electrolyte mix a day!), which can cause dizziness, vomiting, diarrhea, or irregular pulse.
4. Vitamin D (but test your levels first to know what you’re working with)
I would say that every single client I’ve seen in the last year who had their vitamin D tested had low levels. Even by lab standards (which are already low). I don’t understand why every doctor does not test vitamin D levels the minute they hear something is wrong with a patient (which is almost always why a patient is there – something is wrong).
Vitamin D is so important that some experts classify it as a hormone rather than simply a vitamin (which is one good reason you should test it before supplementing with it).
Just a few of the things that Vitamin D does: helps you absorb calcium, promotes bone growth, helps to prevent certain cancers, heart disease, and diabetes, reduces the risk of MS, improves lung function, and fights depression.
Hormonally, vitamin D deficiency in women can cause low estrogen, high DHEA, and high testosterone levels (ouch!).
Know your levels of vitamin D before supplementing with it! It is a fat soluble vitamin, meaning it’s stored in your fat and you can get too much. Those with kidney stones, high levels of calcium in your blood, or suffer from atherosclerosis or sarcoidosis should not supplement with it.
Oh, the never-ending debate about these givers of life.
What most experts can agree on is that people generally have a messed-up microbiome. That’s because things like antibiotics, birth control, and medications can possibly permanently alter it (ugh). Not to mention these things are found in our food and water, even if we haven’t taken them personally.
Having said that, I also think the alternative health community, in particular, focuses a bit too much on the doom and gloom of never having a good gut again if you’ve ever taken antibiotics (which nearly everyone has). Considering I had two weeks of IV antibiotics after sepsis, and another 20 days of antibiotics since then, and lost nearly half my colon, I’m not buying into the belief that our gut can’t rebound.
But, it takes a little (lot of) work. And with all the research out there around probiotics, there is definitely no conclusive evidence. Fecal matter transplant (FMT) seems to be the one way that we can actually alter our microbiome by introducing healthy bugs into our colon, but that’s only approved by the FDA for c. diff. So what do people do in the meantime?
The most recent research points to spore-based organisms/probiotics (SBO) as being one of the better choices for *most* people. Recent studies showed that SBO helped with leaky gut syndrome, germinating the intestinal tract in mice and suppressing e. coli in chicks, inhibiting gastrointestinal disorders, and they may be a better choice for those with SIBO.
Considering much of the latest research shows that lactobacillus and bifidus-based probiotics don’t actually colonize the gut (but they can help with digestion while you are taking them), this points to a less than stellar return on trying to build your tummy back up post-antibiotics or other medications.
I’ve personally been using Megasporbiotics and have found it to be very helpful in improving bowel movements post ostomy-reversal surgery. You can only get those through a practitioner, so if you don’t have one that offers them, Just Thrive is a nearly equivalent formula. I’ve also tried Dr. Axe’s SBO probiotics and found them helpful.
With probiotics, the best way to know if they are helping or not is to pay attention to how your body reacts. Try them alone (i.e. don’t start taking a bunch of new supplements at the same time) and see what happens. If you get massive diarrhea, quit or scale back tremendously (sometimes, this is an early reaction and lessening the amount will help; sometimes, your body doesn’t like it). Better formed stools, less bloating and gas, and more energy are all things to look for.
Vitamin C (whole food formula)
Vitamin C is a pretty astounding thing. For so long, we thought we basically needed it to not get scurvy. But now we know it plays a major role in hormones (helps with progesterone production, ladies!), the growth and repair of tissues, the absorption of iron, wound healing, improves heart health, is an incredible antioxidant, and of course, boosts immunity.
B Vitamin complex
If you need more energy, help with your adrenals, and support with your skin, B vitamins are the way to go. You can read more benefits here.
Now remember, this post is not to be used as a substitution for medical advice from a licensed practitioner. If you are facing health issues, please find a doctor or other practitioner that you trust to help you find answers. I, of course, can help you in the journey towards improving your gut health and balancing your hormones, so feel free to reach out!
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